Chippewas bow out in district semifinal

Manistee’s Grant Schlaff (6) defends against Big Rapids’ Owen Seay (26) during the Chippewas’ 2-1 loss in the district semifinals in Ludington on Wednesday. Seay scored one of the Cardinals’ goals and assisted on the other in the game. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Grant Schlaff (6) defends against Big Rapids’ Owen Seay (26) during the Chippewas’ 2-1 loss in the district semifinals in Ludington on Wednesday. Seay scored one of the Cardinals’ goals and assisted on the other in the game. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

LUDINGTON — Manistee’s boys soccer season came to an end in the district semifinals on Wednesday, with a hard-fought 2-1 loss to Big Rapids at Ludington’s Oriole Field.

With the loss, the Chippewas end their 2018 campaign with a record of 10-10-1.

Elmo Sarabia scored the only Manistee goal of the game, the last of his accomplished four-year varsity career, assisted by Marek Nesrsta.

Manistee head coach Brandon Prince said that he will look back on 2018 as a successful year.

“It’s a double-digit-win season,” Prince said. “The conference we are in, Orchard View got up to being 11th-ranked, Ludington was number three for a while, and of course Western Michigan Christian. When you put those six losses on the books, we’re sitting pretty well. We’re competing in the area, and that’s good to see.”

Two more of those losses were to Big Rapids, who defeated the Chippewas 4-1 during the regular season.

While the Cardinals controlled much of the possession in the game, they managed very few legitimate scoring chances out of it as Manistee’s defending kept them largely at bay for the bulk of the contest.

Big Rapids appeared to have finally broken through with 24:27 left in the first half, when they had a goal disallowed for offside.

It looked like the first half was going to end scoreless, but the Cardinals finally cracked the Chippewa defense with 3:21 left until the break. Big Rapids senior Owen Seay ran onto a perfect ball over the top and gave Manistee goalkeeper Drew Schlaff no chance, making the score 1-0.

Prince insisted that it was not a defensive breakdown.

“That was a pretty, well put pass,” he said. “It was right in the spot where it had to be. That was a great ball.”

The Cardinals rode that wave of momentum at the start of the second half, keeping Manistee’s defense back on their heels in the opening minutes. They came close to doubling their lead just 30 seconds into the half, but center back Ben Doolittle saved the day by clearing the ball off the line and out of danger.

Manistee started to play with more urgency late in the half, creating several decent chances, but it was Big Rapids, somewhat against the run of play, who scored the next goal, off of a corner kick. Seay’s corner kick was turned home at the near post by Jason Cosper, and the Cardinals led 2-0 with 4:33 left.

Manistee pulled one back soon after, when Sarabia ran onto a long ball from Nesrsta and made a calm finish to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 4:14 left.

“The guys didn’t quit,” Prince said. “To be down 2-0 and then turn around 30 seconds later and put one on the board and keep going at them, I was proud to see it. They worked hard all season.”

But that would be as close as the Chippewas would get, and the game ended 2-1.

Despite the loss, Prince said that he was pleased with his team’s defensive effort.

“I don’t think we gave them any really quality (chances),” he said. “There were just a couple of breakthrough moments, and they got them. They finished, we didn’t. That’s the way it goes.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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